There has been a lot of talk and controversy recently, about exchanging debts owed to China for $8 billion with Egyptian strategic assets from ports and airports. Which may not be well understood by some, and given my specialization in Chinese affairs, I tried to analyze the Chinese debts and lending mechanisms to Egypt and the other African countries, in order to understand the Chinese viewpoint in this regard, as follows:
There is no evidence to support fears that China is using its debt to control the strategic assets of debtor countries. But on the other hand, China recently recorded its direct participation in the ownership of projects, by acquiring a share of the shares in them.
China has funded projects along the African continent, including Egypt, with almost zero interest, and with grace periods of up to five years. It also managed the use of a mixture of grants and loans, the repayment periods of which can reach periods ranging from 15 to 30 years.
We find that the most prominent terms and conditions that are included in Chinese loan contracts, within foreign aid projects, were the phrase:
“If there is any difficulty in repaying the debt on time, the repayment period can be extended after consulting with the Chinese government”
We note that there has been extensive use of the term “waiver of sovereign immunity” in the contracts of a number of loans to countries such as Nigeria and Kenya.
We find here that the waiver clause that China requires of “sovereign immunity” allows a sovereign country to be sued in a foreign court or to be subject to international arbitration.
When reviewing many Chinese loan contracts, most of them contain language on waiver of sovereign immunity in relation to arbitration and enforcement.
At the same time, it did not find what is known as any “expropriation of sovereign assets” by China, as a result of default, whether in Africa or globally.
We find China’s justification for resorting to the inclusion of the “sovereignty” clause, as a common practice in many international trade agreements, and accordingly China confirms that criticism directed at this clause specifically in several countries, was employed in favor of some local political agendas. Especially, since these concepts in financing Chinese international projects, and according to commercial law, are completely technical concepts that are routinely used.
Accordingly, the debts of many countries to China in particular, and in conjunction with the economic crises of most countries, especially after the spread of the Corona pandemic, have undergone rescheduling operations that sometimes reached dozens of times.
The most prominent point for me here, is that it is not only China as a partner or as a commercial investor that is only accused of pledging assets, that is, the assets of countries that are in default of loans. We find that in the international financial and monetary institutions, and within the restructuring programs, under the supervision of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, a number of African governments have privatized their state-owned institutions. Accordingly, its approval was given to exchange Chinese loans for shares in official institutions.
Also, most of the Chinese debts fall under almost the same conditions, until the Chinese “Exim Bank” took over the management of the Chinese state debt. Then the “Export and Import Bank of China” followed the international norms to include large penalty clauses, including 20% to 50% as an interest rate on late payment. But, these conditions disappeared in the following decades, and it was found that these conditions were not applied at all.
China launched a debt rescheduling program. It was the first pledge by Beijing to cancel debts on the African continent. Then the Chinese government issued a debt cancellation program, due to the collapse and decline in commodity prices, which had a significant impact on the failure of many countries, especially African.
We find that between 2017 and 2021, there was an accelerating tendency from China to increase the volume of lending, due to the return of high prices of goods produced by many African countries in particular.
But, after 2019, the issue of “defaulting” procedures began to change, and the issue of commercial restructuring is no longer the main tool used by Beijing to pressure for payment when the debtor state is insolvent, but rather is moving towards stopping expenses on projects that are being implemented, Which slows down their completion, but this of course has caused great damage to the Chinese contractors.
In addition to these new Chinese procedures for the loan and debt scheduling a mechanism system, stating that: “China does not grant any new loans, until part of the old loans is paid to the debtor country”. If these projects are able to generate revenues, Chinese financing will be completed, as happened in the Addis Ababa railway in the Ethiopian capital.
As for dealing with the insolvency of China’s infrastructure projects in some countries such as the African Congo, a coalition of French-Chinese companies was brought in. This consortium owns shares in the project, which extends for at least 30 years.
We find the expansion of Egypt and all African countries in borrowing from China. The Horn of Africa countries in East Africa borrowed about $29 billion from China for infrastructure, energy and construction projects.
We find that recently, Beijing has intensified its efforts to obtain lease contracts to manage some strategic assets in countries that have defaulted on debt payments, such as the “Hambantota Port” in Sri Lanka, which China will manage for 99 years, and the “Pakistan Gwadar Port” with a lease Up to 44 years old.
Through the previous analysis of the Egyptian researcher, we can monitor the extent to which the Egyptian side suffers economically, like many other economies around the world, and the traditional solutions adopted by Egypt during the past years (from the large expansion of debt or the use of Gulf allies) are no longer sufficient to deal with this crisis, which was exacerbated globally by the Russian-Ukrainian war and the move by the US Federal Reserve to raise the interest rate, which resulted in the flight of dollars from the country and from several countries around the world. Meanwhile, only this year, in 2022, Egypt is scheduled to pay tens of billions of dollars to pay off its debt payments or interest.
Therefore, according to my assessment of the situation, estimating the economic and security risks that adherence to these conditions for lending to the Egyptian economy may cause, requires a high degree of precaution and caution, especially since one of the estimates indicates that the dollar may rise to 25 pounds, in the event of a complete liberalization of the exchange rate. in Egypt.
Risk of Global Recession in 2023 Rises Amid Simultaneous Rate Hikes
As central banks across the world simultaneously hike interest rates in response to inflation, the world may be edging toward a global recession in 2023 and a string of financial crises in emerging market and developing economies that would do them lasting harm, according to a comprehensive new study by the World Bank.
Central banks around the world have been raising interest rates this year with a degree of synchronicity not seen over the past five decades—a trend that is likely to continue well into next year, according to the report. Yet the currently expected trajectory of interest-rate increases and other policy actions may not be sufficient to bring global inflation back down to levels seen before the pandemic. Investors expect central banks to raise global monetary-policy rates to almost 4 percent through 2023—an increase of more than 2 percentage points over their 2021 average.
Unless supply disruptions and labor-market pressures subside, those interest-rate increases could leave the global core inflation rate (excluding energy) at about 5 percent in 2023—nearly double the five-year average before the pandemic, the study finds. To cut global inflation to a rate consistent with their targets, central banks may need to raise interest rates by an additional 2 percentage points, according to the report’s model. If this were accompanied by financial-market stress, global GDP growth would slow to 0.5 percent in 2023—a 0.4 percent contraction in per–capita terms that would meet the technical definition of a global recession.
“Global growth is slowing sharply, with further slowing likely as more countries fall into recession. My deep concern is that these trends will persist, with long-lasting consequences that are devastating for people in emerging market and developing economies,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “To achieve low inflation rates, currency stability and faster growth, policymakers could shift their focus from reducing consumption to boosting production. Policies should seek to generate additional investment and improve productivity and capital allocation, which are critical for growth and poverty reduction.”
The study highlights the unusually fraught circumstances under which central banks are fighting inflation today. Several historical indicators of global recessions are already flashing warnings. The global economy is now in its steepest slowdown following a post-recession recovery since 1970. Global consumer confidence has already suffered a much sharper decline than in the run-up to previous global recessions. The world’s three largest economies—the United States, China, and the euro area—have been slowing sharply. Under the circumstances, even a moderate hit to the global economy over the next year could tip it into recession.
The study relies on insights from previous global recessions to analyze the recent evolution of economic activity and presents scenarios for 2022–24. A slowdown—such that the one now underway—typically calls for countercyclical policy to support activity. However, the threat of inflation and limited fiscal space are spurring policymakers in many countries to withdraw policy support even as the global economy slows sharply.
The experience of the 1970s, the policy responses to the 1975 global recession, the subsequent period of stagflation, and the global recession of 1982 illustrate the risk of allowing inflation to remain elevated for long while growth is weak. The 1982 global recession coincided with the second-lowest growth rate in developing economies over the past five decades, second only to 2020. It triggered more than 40 debt crises] and was followed by a decade of lost growth in many developing economies.
“Recent tightening of monetary and fiscal policies will likely prove helpful in reducing inflation,” said Ayhan Kose, the World Bank’s Acting Vice President for Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions. “But because they are highly synchronous across countries, they could be mutually compounding in tightening financial conditions and steepening the global growth slowdown. Policymakers in emerging market and developing economies need to stand ready to manage the potential spillovers from globally synchronous tightening of policies.”
Central banksshould persist in their efforts to control inflation—and it can be done without touching off a global recession, the study finds. But it will require concerted action by a variety of policymakers:
Central banks must communicate policy decisions clearly while safeguarding their independence. This could help anchor inflation expectations and reduce the degree of tightening needed. In advanced economies, central banks should keep in mind the cross-border spillover effects of monetary tightening. In emerging market and developing economies, they should strengthen macroprudential regulations and build foreign-exchange reserves.
Fiscal authorities will need to carefully calibrate the withdrawal of fiscal support measures while ensuring consistency with monetary-policy objectives. The fraction of countries tightening fiscal policies next year is expected to reach its highest level since the early 1990s. This could amplify the effects of monetary policy on growth. Policymakers should also put in place credible medium-term fiscal plans and provide targeted relief to vulnerable households.
Other economic policymakers will need to join in the fight against inflation—particularly by taking strong steps to boost global supply. These include:
o Easing labor-market constraints. Policy measures need to help increase labor-force participation and reduce price pressures. Labor-market policies can facilitate the reallocation of displaced workers.
o Boosting the global supply of commodities. Global coordination can go a long way in increasing food and energy supply. For energy commodities, policymakers should accelerate the transition to low–carbon energy sources and introduce measures to reduce energy consumption.
o Strengthening global trade networks. Policymakers should cooperate to alleviate global supply bottlenecks. They should support a rules-based international economic order, one that guards against the threat of protectionism and fragmentation that could further disrupt trade networks.
Without Reform on Social Protection, Kosovo’s Poorest and Most Vulnerable Will Be Left Behind
There is growing alarm in Kosovo over rising prices for food, electricity, fuel, and firewood. This is not unwarranted. As elsewhere around the world, inflation is straining Kosovans’ budgets as incomes fail to keep pace. The situation is particularly dire for those already living in poverty or close to the poverty line since they spend a greater proportion of their income on food, energy bills, and home heating. Even small price increases threaten these households’ ability to meet basic needs.
That is where social protection programs like pensions, social assistance, and labor market programs play an important role in safeguarding the poorest and most vulnerable. Investing in well-functioning social protection systems is not just a moral imperative, it is smart economics. These programs are an investment in Kosovo’s future—essential to promoting healthier and better educated children and assisting young people in finding jobs. And when the poor are supported and given opportunities to improve their livelihoods, they are less likely to leave the country in search of a better life—helping keep valuable human capital and skills in Kosovo.
Is Kosovo’s social protection system responding well to the numerous crises—the war in Ukraine, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and rising food and energy prices—facing the country? I would argue that much still needs to be done to better protect poor households. While Kosovo allocates a significant portion of its budget to social protection programs, their efficiency and redistributive impacts need improvement. To truly unlock these systems’ potential to support individuals, families, and communities in the face of economic shocks, they must be overhauled and redesigned.
The shortcomings in Kosovo’s social protection system are most apparent with the Social Assistance Scheme (SAS), which faced an 8.4% funding decrease between 2009 and 2019 after adjusting for inflation. The number of households receiving SAS benefits also dropped over roughly the same period, from more than 40,000 in 2005 to roughly 25,600 in 2020. This is partly driven by the fact that very poor households are often not SAS-eligible: of the poorest 20% of Kosovo’s population, only about one in four people receive SAS benefits. This is because the eligibility criteria are stringent and inflexible. Households must either have all adults defined as ‘dependent,’ meaning they are not required to work, or one adult must be registered as unemployed and caring for a child younger than five or an orphan under age 15. These same households must also have a low income, few assets, and poor living conditions. Such restrictive conditions likely encourage individuals to seek informal employment and exclude many working poor households and those with multiple children all over the age of five, which face higher expenses and needs.
As currently designed and despite the Government’s recent efforts to increase monthly stipends paid to beneficiaries, the SAS does not provide an adequate safety net for many poor families in Kosovo. This was especially apparent during the pandemic when SAS was unable to expand to reach households that had fallen into poverty or out of the labor market because of closures—necessitating the Government to rapidly launch a new program (Measure 15) to fill this gap.
Our analysis suggests that revising the SAS design by selecting beneficiary households on their poverty status only—considering both formal and informal income—would significantly increase its equity. This would enable the SAS to better mirror the country’s poverty profile and create a legal foundation to expand the scheme’s coverage when poverty dynamics in the country change and more budget resources are made available to finance poverty-targeted programs. Recent experience has also demonstrated the need to invest in the scheme’s delivery systems, including an integrated data management system to understand who is receiving which benefits. Payment systems must also be modernized to increase transparency and accountability over use of taxpayer funds. These reforms are a critical first step towards ensuring that the country’s poorest are protected today and into the future.
We stand ready to support the implementation of such efforts, starting with the strengthening of the current system through the World Bank-supported SAS Reform project, currently awaiting ratification in Parliament. This project will provide funding for investments in the SAS delivery systems and increase the value of SAS benefits to mitigate the economic impacts of the unfolding crises facing Kosovo.
The time to act is now. The costs of not doing so will be severe and long-lasting for the country’s future and will leave Kosovo’s poorest and most vulnerable behind.
Originally published in Albanian in Gazeta Express, via World Bank
Comparison of the US and Chinese economy
No doubt that the US is the largest economy, but, it is facing severe challenges and may not sustain this status forever. It is a natural cycle, nations work hard and rose to the peak and rule the other nations, sustain status quo for various duration, and then by one or another reason starts declining and pave ways for other nation to climb peak and become number one. It is an historic fact, which cannot be denied. One cannot win against the nature.
The US has been ruling the world after the World War II, and enjoyed supremacy, especially, after the disintegration of former USSR in 1991, the US enjoyed hegemony as a single superpower in the unipolar world for few decades.
However, the geopolitics has been changed, the US may not have realized, or not willing to accept it. But, the ground realities are evident and the US economy is falling sharply and losing its status of unique superpower and supremacy.
Below is the record of bankruptcy in US:-
1. Victoria’s Secret declared bankruptcy.
2. Zara closed 1,200 stores.
3. La Chapelle withdrew 4391 stores.
4. Chanel is discontinued.
5. Hermes is discontinued.
6. Patek Philippe discontinued production.
7. Rolex discontinued production.
8. The world’s luxury industry has crumbled.
9. Nike has a total of $23 billion US dollars preparing for the second stage of layoffs.
10. Gold’s gym filed for bankruptcy
11. The founder of Airbnb said that because of pandemic, 12 years of efforts were destroyed in 6 weeks.
12. Even Starbucks also announced to permanently close their 400 stores.
13. WeWork isn’t in a great spot either
14. Nissan Motor Co. may close down in USA
15. Biggest Car Rental Company (Hertz) filed for bankruptcy – they also own Thrifty and Dollar
16. The biggest Trucking company (Comcar) filed for bankruptcy – they have 4000 trucks
17. Oldest retail company (JC Penny) filed for bankruptcy – to be acquired by Amazon for pennies
18. The biggest investor in the world (Warren Buffet) lost $50B in the last 2 months
19. The biggest investment company in the world (BlackRock) is signaling disaster in the world economy – they manage over $7 Trillion
20. Biggest mall in America (Mall of America) stopped paying mortgage payments
21. Most reputable airline in the world (Emirates) laying off 30% of its employees
22. US Treasury printing trillions to try to keep the economy on life support
23. Estimated no. of retail stores closing in 2020 – 12,000 to 15,000. The following are big retailers that have announced closing: – J. Crew, – Gap, – Victoria’s Secret, – Bath & Body Works, – Forever 21, – Sears, – Walgreens, – GameStop, – Pier 1 Imports, – Nordstrom, – Papyrus, – Chico’s, – Destination Maternity, – Modell’s, – A.C. Moore, – Macy’s, – Bose, – Art Van Furniture, – Olympia Sports, – K Mart, – Specialty Cafe & Bakery, and many more.
Unemployment claims reached an all-time high of 38+ million – unemployment is over 25% (out of 160 million of workforce, close to 40 million are jobless). With no income, consumer demand is falling drastically and the economy will go into a free fall.
Of course COVID-19 has adversely impacted on the global economy including the US, but, more importantly. The US military operations, misadventures, overseas military bases, unnecessary confrontations, and war craze has costed heavily and harmed its economy severely. Only the miracles can save the US, otherwise its downfall is under process and declining accelerated.
On the other hand, China is making positive developments, despite of COVID-19, and slightly deterioration, yet the economic indicators are encouraging. China’s foreign exchange reserves totaled 3.0549 trillion U.S. dollars at the end of August, down 49.2 billion U.S. dollars from July, data from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange showed Wednesday.
“Cross-border capital flows were rational and orderly, and supply and demand in the domestic foreign exchange market remained generally balanced,” said Wang Chunying, deputy director and spokesperson of the administration.
Wang attributed the decrease in foreign exchange reserves to factors including exchange rate conversion and asset price changes. On the global financial market, the U.S. dollar index rises and the price of global financial assets declines under the influence of monetary policy expectations and the macroeconomic data of major countries.
Deeming the external situation complex and grim at present, Wang said the global financial market registers strong fluctuations amid increasing pressure on the global economy.
China has kept its economy operating in an appropriate range by effectively coordinating epidemic prevention and control with economic and social development, while implementing a raft of policies on stabilizing the economy. This helps keep its forex reserves generally stable, Wang added. Its domestic market is huge and can compensate any loss from international market. The pace of development within China is huge, which keep the economy moving on. More companies are appearing the top 500 fortunes, against the US companies are decreasing gradually.
China is emerging as a role model for many developing nations and is being followed by few countries. Chinese model is based on win-win cooperation, no aggression, no war, no occupation, no colonialization, no interference into other’s domestic affairs. It is a perfect peaceful development model and a precedence for the civilized world.
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